TRUMP TO SCRAP ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS FOR INFRA PROJECTS
President Donald Trump is expected to announce a new federal rule to speed up the environmental review process for proposed highways, gas pipelines and other major infrastructure, a move that critics are describing as the dismantling of a 50-year-old environmental protection law, Kevin Freking reported for the Associated Press (AP) late on Tuesday, July 15, 2020.
Trump will travel to Atlanta on Wednesday to announce the federal rule as he seeks to make it easier to meet some of the country’s infrastructure needs. When he first announced the effort in January, the administration set a two-year deadline for completing full environmental impact reviews while less comprehensive assessments would have to be completed within one year. The White House said the final rule will promote the rebuilding of America.
Critics call the president’s efforts a cynical attempt to limit the public’s ability to review, comment and influence proposed projects under the National Environmental Policy Act, one of the country’s bedrock environmental protection laws. “This may be the single biggest giveaway to polluters in the past 40 years,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that works to save endangered species.
Jon Ossoff, a Democrat who is running against incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue, said Trump’s decision to come to Georgia to discuss infrastructure as the state’s coronavirus crisis worsens demonstrates that the president is “in denial and out of control.” He added: “Coming here for a routine photo-op is, frankly, bizarre, surreal against this unprecedented health and economic crisis.”